March 27, 2023

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“Suddenly one of us passes out and falls backwards with all our might: a hungry faint.” Where did the brilliant women’s national team of Russia come from in the 2000s

A book about the legendary Russian women’s basketball team of the 2000s has been published.

Ilona Korstin, Masha Stepanova, Tanya Shchegoleva, Sveta Abrosimova, Olya Arteshina, Ira Osipova, Oksana Rakhmatulina. The names and images of these girls, who were the striking force of one of the most successful teams in the history of Russian sports, are still remembered by many fans.

They were stars, in each of which, as it was sung in that very song by Andrey Gubin, “it is easy and simple to fall in love once and for all.” The book “Such girls as stars” by Alexander Fedotov (recall that a year ago he, a former sports journalist, wrote another story about the heroes of Russian basketball – “Ural Great Comet” ) – visual, fascinating in content and quite weighty in volume (395 pages), proof of this., with the permission of the publishers and the author, publishes selected fragments of the new book: about the difficult childhood of the heroines, the furore they made at their first tournament in the national team, basketball manager Shabtay Kalmanovich, the conflict around the captaincy (what women’s team is without intrigues?!) and the last victorious dance – at the 2011 European Championships.

Overcoming generation

The character of these girls was formed not only on the basketball court, but also in everyday life. After all, the childhood and youth of that generation passed in constant overcoming of difficulties. Take, for example, such an important nuance as the road to the sports school. It is today that almost every Russian family living in a large city has a personal car. At that time, one could only dream of such a “gift of fate”. So be kind: for training – on your own two and by public transport. Every day. In any weather. Regardless of the distance.

According to the recollections of the pupils of the legendary children’s coaches Kira and Vladimir Trzheskal, the journey from home to the gym took at least two hours for most of them. The “record holder” here was Masha Stepanova. The first years of basketball lessons, her family lived in the village of Lyuban in the Tosnensky district of the Leningrad region. Masha got to the place of training for five (!) hours and, one might say, settled in the train. While driving back and forth, I had time to eat, do my homework, and sleep.

This is how the future stars of women’s basketball were tempered.

Svetlana Abrosimova, player of the Russian national team in 1997-2011: “Today I look at the children who go to training and back home by car (you get into a warm Mercedes – there is already some water there, music plays, everything is cool), and I understand that this comfort is not beneficial. On the contrary, it makes you much weaker. I remember how we lived. After a heavy load, he got dressed and went. Walking in the open air, standing to wait for the tram, then pushing around there a little – the perfect recovery! You come home – your head is cleared. Really cool down after a workout. In turn, the road to the sports school – instead of a warm-up. This is not for you to sit in a car for an hour and a half in traffic jams!

Ilona Korstin, player of the Russian national team in 2000-2013 : “It used to be that you get on a tram and sleep all the way, 40 minutes. And then the same amount by metro and 20 minutes on foot. Someone, like Masha Stepanova, had to travel even longer. For us, it was considered normal, in the order of things. We didn’t know another life. There were no “thieves” and children from rich families in the team. All were in roughly equal conditions. The only thing is that I was lucky with my relatives. Pampered with gifts from abroad. My aunt, having left for France, sent light green sneakers with pink balls, as well as green shorts and a T-shirt with a headband. Firm! I came in all this to train at a sports school – and the girls were stunned. A couple of years ago, by the way, Masha reminded me of those sneakers – they say, how we all envied you then!